President Andrzej Duda has objected to the choice of Yerushalayim as the venue for a conference marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, saying it should be in held in Auschwitz.
“To me, it is precisely here, in Poland, on our soil today, occupied back then by Nazi Germany, where those ashes are scattered. This is the place of immense symbolism … Deep within my soul, I believe this is the appropriate place, the best one. I believe that one must not deprive this place of its remembrance by transferring it somewhere else,” Duda said on Wednesday night in Warsaw, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Earlier this week, he said he would not attend the upcoming Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem because he was not invited to speak, whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked to speak. Warsaw and Moscow are currently in a spat over which of their countries was to blame for the start of World War II, and Duda’s spokesperson said that it was unthinkable that he would have to sit silently while Putin tells lies about Poland.
The Polish president said that being in Auschwitz, where it is “bitterly cold … magnifies the sense of gravity. This stiffening cold makes one truly comprehend the horror of the place.” He pointed out that prisoners in the concentration camps were there for years, with no heating and only wearing thin uniforms, many having to walk barefoot in the snow.
Poland will hold its own ceremony at Auschwitz on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, which is the anniversary of the camp’s liberation.